Despite the fact that much of the nation has long since moved on from this debate, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has continued to be a vocal opponent of transgender Texans using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. Some Texas legislators are doubling down on their anti-trans stance, and Gov. Patrick has stated that passing a "bathroom bill" barring trans people from using their preferred restroom should be "a priority for the next legislative session," Texas Tribune reports.
"I think the handwriting is on the bathroom wall: Men need to stay out of the ladies’ room," Patrick said. "This isn’t about equal rights. This isn’t about being against anyone or anti-any person. This is about common sense, common decency and allowing women to have comfort when they’re in the bathroom."
Some Texas business owners aren't having it. Citing North Carolina's controversial HB2 law, which overturned a city ordinance extending rights to LGBT people, business owners signed an open letter decrying the idea that Texas is considering similar legislation.
"We love Texas and we’re proud to call it home," the letter reads. "We want to continue to provide great jobs and great experiences for our employees and our customers. That’s why we oppose any Texas legislation – broad or narrow – that would legalize discrimination against any group. That kind of legislation doesn’t just go against our values to be welcoming to everyone, it jeopardizes the businesses we’ve worked so hard to create, and it threatens the jobs and livelihoods of everyday Texans."
More than 200 businesses signed the letter. Many North Texas businesses signed it, but few of them so far are in the food and drink industry. Mariel Street, owner of Liberty Burger, is one local business owner who signed.
"The idea of the government getting involved in bathroom policy is mind boggling," she tells the Observer. "It hasn't been an issue, and now they seem to be making it one. We have seen the economic impact the passage of this type of bill had in North Carolina. It cost their economy millions of dollars and thousands of jobs. With large companies fleeing California and relocating to Texas (I read that we got somewhere around 15% of the businesses that left CA), why would we want to shake up that progress, why spend tax dollars, time and effort on a bill that has proven to have negative economic consequences and has failed in a handful of states?"
Street says that trans people using Liberty Burger restrooms has never been an issue. "Go in, do your business, wash your hands and exit to enjoy your meal," she says. "We have never had an issue, and in my experience, transgender individuals just want to pee in peace. If someone were to ever be harassed, we would deal with the situation on a case by case basis. We stand against harassment of any kind and promote decency and respect for all."
Paschall Bar in Denton and Lil’ Monkeyz Cakes in Garland also signed the letter attempting to discourage potential bathroom legislation.
Street sees the entire discussion as a waste of time.
"It's a lose-lose battle," she says. "If it passes, we potentially lose money and jobs. It fails, we lose time and money."
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.